Most people would associate driving under the influence with driving while intoxicated. Intoxicated is commonly associated with the ingestion of alcohol. In reality, anyone who has taken an illegal drug may be arrested for a DUI. The club drug ecstasy is among those drugs since it can impact the ability to drive.
Any ecstasy user who has been pulled over for suspicious driving could be looking at very serious repercussions. Illegal drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle in a safe manner. This is why laws exist on the books to sanction drivers who get behind the wheel after using controlled substances.
Understanding Ecstasy-Related Impairments
Ecstasy — the drug MMDA — is deemed a euphoric and a stimulant. In many ways, ecstasy shares similarities to amphetamines in terms of the effect the drug may have on the user. The National Institutes of Health published reports in 2011 chronicling studies related to drug use and driving. In the reports, it was revealed that MMDA by itself or combined “raving-oriented” sleep loss makes a person unfit to drive. In short, a person impaired by MMDA might be a serious danger behind the wheel.
Volume and Impact
The higher the quantity of MMDA a person uses, the greater the likelihood of more severe impairment. Again, MMDA has a stimulant effect on the central nervous system. Side effects associated with MMDA may occur at any amount of use, but higher amounts bring forth the risk of increasing their severity. Lack of concentration is one obvious problem inherent with a mind and mood altering substance. With MMDA, hallucinations and auditory and visual sensitivity could be experienced. Driving safely certainly becomes difficult when suffering from such side effects.
The euphoria derived from ecstasy use could lead a driver to speed or engage in other ill-advised road performance. He she may not be attentive to changing lights or might perform unsafe lane changes. Such actions do present hazards on the road.
In terms of the legal questions surrounding guilt or innocence of driving under the influence of MMDA, there are several components that must be addressed.
Drug Testing for MMDA
A driver who is pulled over for a DUI may be subjected to blood and/or urine drug testing. Both tests might reveal the conclusive presence of ecstasy in the system. A urine test can detect the presence of MMDA in the system for up to several days since the last use. Blood tests not only detect presence, blood tests also reveal concentration with greater accuracy.
In terms of legal standards, the presence of ecstasy in the system might not be enough to prove someone was actually impaired by the drug. A person who tests positive for the presence of ecstasy in his or her system is not necessarily “under the influence”. The individual may also need to experience other signs of impairment and being intoxicated. Prosecutors do need to prove a guilt “beyond a reasonable” doubt. If the charge is driving under the influence, then there must be proof the person was too impaired to drive.
Again, a person has the drug in his/her system even though he/she has not used the drug in several days. After several days, the drug’s ability to impair driving might be legally questionable. Such could be the basis for a defense to ecstasy-related DUI charges.
Prosecuting the Case
Expert witnesses may be called by the state to address questions about the concentration levels found in the bloodstream. A physician might suggest that impairment is highly possible based on the amounts found in the blood samples. Such testimony, combined with police reports indicating erratic driving and impaired behavior, may very well convince a jury of guilt.
Of course, if small amount of the drug are found in the system, the defense attorney could bring forth an expert witness as well. The witness could cast doubt on whether or not the amounts are enough to cause impairment.
Ultimately, anyone who has been charged with a DUI while using ecstasy should speak with a qualified defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases.
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